posted Oct 03, 2000

Will Personalization Be The End of Editorial Integrity? Personal Commentary10/3/2000; 1:21:46 PM I hold in my hands the latest issue of the Official Dreamcast Magazine... covering the Dreamcast, which is the latest & greatest video gaming console put out by Sega. Contained inside this magazine are:

This is hardly an unusual magazine; there are niche magazines for every sport imaginable, every animal imaginable, every class of hardware and quite a few specific products, etc. Each of those niche magazines face the editorial integrity issue: How can we write with integrity on the very same topics that we must sell advertising for?I picked out the video game magazine because of the large number of reviews it has; most PC publications have faced the same review problem. How can we negatively review somebody's product when we depend on that company's advertising revenue? When it boils down to it, we have to take the fairness of the reviews on trust, with most magazines either finding some balance or dying due to lack of subscribers. You can also look for sources of reviews that aren't dependent on the advertising revenue of that particular type of product, because of the broad base of reviews done, like Consumer Reports. But as we enter the age of ultra-personalization, content will be divided finer and finer, and the natural effect of this division is to move the advertising even closer to the content, until you get to the point where every fishing pole review will be accompied solely by advertising for fishing poles (or fishing equipment at the very least), even if the New York Times is doing the review. The inability to target advertising at such a fine level provided shelters for editorial integrity, where it is clear that the reviewer is not recieving money (and conflicts of interest) from the reviewed topic. Thus, while there may still be entities performing broad bases of reviews, they will effectively be exactly like the niche market targetters.Will one of the effects of personalization be to render large organizations perpetually in thrall to the advertisers? If not, what will be created to combat this tendancy? (Personal websites probably aren't the entire answer; sites large enough to obtain enough credibility to seem trusted will find it increasingly desirable to sell advertisements... for instance, Tom's Hardware.)


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